Southern – No Pride

August 2, 2009

Along with dozens of other people my son and his friends turned up at Three Bridges to travel to Brighton for Brighton Pride. With four sixteen year olds and a fourteen year old, Groupsave would be the ideal ticket. But guess what? Southern suspends Groupsave for Brighton Pride day (also for White Air and the Lewes Bonfire Day).  While we were waiting we heard three other groups of people find this out at the ticket sales point. They were all as annoyed as we were.

Now I understand that Groupsave is designed to fill empty of peak seats, and that there would be fewer empty seats on Pride day. But to the customer this looks like nothing less than a rip-off.  Southern advertise a product, and on the one day someone wants to use it they withdraw it. Sneaky.

It wasn’t made any better by the fact that the ticket office doors at Three Bridges were stuck closed – resulting in huge queues at the ticket machine.

Don’t get me wrong – I do like Southern. I like their nice trains, and the range of good fares. But they do need to get their act together in other ways.


Journey to Work

July 31, 2009

How should I travel from Three Bridges to my office near Oxford Circus each day? There are lots of options:

1: Three Bridges to Victoria then Victoria line to Oxford Circus then walk.

  • Three Bridges – Victoria = 40 minutes
  • Victoria – Wells Street = 16 minutes including 5 minute walk
  • Two trains per hour from Three Bridges
  • BUT Victoria line horribly crowded – you have to wait for several trains to pass before you can squeeze on. Coming home is just as bad – see my last post!
  • Walking along Oxford Street in the morning is pleasant. Walking along Oxford Street in the afternoon is hell.

2: Three Bridges to City Thameslink then bus – Wardour Street then a short walk

  • Three Bridges – City Thameslink = 52 minutes
  • City Thameslink – Wells Street = 25 minutes including 5 minute walk
  • BUT only one suitable train from Three Bridges
  • Bus trip much nicer than tube
  • Walking across Oxford Street much easier

3: Three Bridges to London Bridge then tube and walk

  • Three Bridges – London Bridge = 39 minutes
  • London Bridge – Wells Street = 25 minutes including 15 minute walk
  • 2 trains per hour from Three Bridges
  • Jubilee line pretty busy
  • Walking along Oxford Street in the morning is OK

So, what to do? Pick and mix at the moment. Victoria is fine in the mornings, but really difficult in the evenings from Oxford Circus. I tend to go home via City Thameslink as I like the bus trip and the longer train journey gives me more time to read the new paper.

Southern – I Said There Was Trouble!

March 30, 2009

I reported a few weeks back that the new Southern timetable didn’t seem to be working. Well it wasn’t, and so they have amended the timetable and issued a long explanation and apology. Note the following comment:

Adding trains to an already busy railway network makes the new timetable much more sensitive to delay.

That’s what any railway operator knows. Its not surprising that the DfT tried it on, but it is disappointing that the franchisee did not think to make this point to the DfT a bit earlier. It will be interesting to see how the South Coast Route Utilisation Strategy proposes to deal with these problems. Note also the comment in the press release:

Firstly, we have undertaken a detailed review of the timetable. The result of this review is that we have introduced some minor changes to timings to a number of trains to specifically improve their performance onto the Brighton Main Line at the most congested times in the morning peak. These changes took effect from 23 March and I hope that you will see a sustained improvement.

Well as far as I can see these minor changes have not resulted in any improvements. There are two trains from Three Bridges at around 5 past 8 in the morning. One from Brighton, one from Littlehampton. Southern has tried switching them around, Southern has tried switching them back again. But they still inevitably delay each other and run out of sequence.

And there is more bad news for Southern because they have had to borrow some south Eastern Class 375 units which are running instead of 375 units. This is not Southern’s fault – it is the result of a complicated chain of events. But the Sussex long distance commuters don’t like the temporary stock. And I don’t blame them! My 17:47 from London Bridge will be Class 375 for the next 12 weeks. I get a numb bum after just 38 minutes – I hate to think how people feel when they arrive at Littlehampton!

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